Coldplay’s latest video criticized – ‘Hymn’ triggers debate in India over its portrayal

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In this Feb 6 picture British actress Helen Mirren reacts after receiving the Golden Camera media award as best actress International, in Hamburg, Germany. (Inset): TV Journalist Dunja Hayali receives the Golden Camera award. (AP/AFP)
In this Feb 6 picture British actress Helen Mirren reacts after receiving the Golden Camera media award as best actress International, in Hamburg, Germany. (Inset): TV Journalist Dunja Hayali receives the Golden Camera award. (AP/AFP)

NEW DELHI, Feb 8, (AP): British rock band Coldplay’s latest music video has triggered a debate in India over its portrayal of the country with critics accusing its producers of showing stereotypical images of India with Hindu holy men, peacocks and colorful festivals.

Coldplay featured Beyonce in their Super Bowl half-time show Sunday, but they didn’t perform their new collaboration, “Hymn for the Weekend.”

The four-minute video of the song shows Coldplay being chased and pelted with color as residents celebrate Holi, the Indian festival of color.

Many Indians say it stereotypes India as the land of holy men and pagan festival rituals. They say the video ignores changes in India following the economic boom that has changed the face of Indian cities and towns.

The music video, shot almost entirely in India’s entertainment capital, Mumbai, also has a two-second appearance by Sonam Kapoor, an up-and-coming Bollywood actress.


The video has triggered as debate among India’s English-speaking elite about cultural appropriation as Beyonce appears dressed in typical Indian wedding finery, on billboards and in a bioscope painted in many hues.

Most criticism was on social media.

“Why does the white man not get it? India 2016 is not a land of snake-charmers, sadhus and nagins. Stereotype,” Zakka Jacob, a television anchor at CNN-IBN tweeted.

“It seems they are in love with all the cliches about India. Just missing a snake charmer!” Nidhi Kapur, a human resource professional, said in a tweet.

In 2008, Danny Boyle’s multiple-Oscar winning film, “Slumdog Millionaire,” also faced similar criticism for its portrayal of poverty and corruption in India, with critics saying the film showed the country in its worst light.

But the video had its admirers, too.

“Amazing India. Exotic India. Captured so beautifully in the latest @coldplay video Hymn for the Weekend,” tweeted Pritish Nandy, an Indian lawmaker and poet.

Give Chris Martin and Coldplay credit: It takes a certain lack of ego for musicians to essentially let themselves be upstaged at their own Super Bowl show.


The British band invited Beyonce and Bruno Mars to share the spotlight Sunday for the halftime extravaganza, which evolved into a 50th anniversary tribute to Super Bowl shows of yore. Both of the guest artists, with experience as headliners of their own on the year’s biggest entertainment platform, pushed up the show’s energy level.

Martin and Coldplay have a good ear for pop hooks and although they try hard, have difficulty commanding a stage as big as this. With the opening “Viva La Vida” and snippet of “Paradise,” they seemed to get lost in their surroundings — the pinwheels of color on the floor of the stage, the young people coming out with violins, the dancers working on the field.

On “Adventure of a Lifetime,” their latest hit, Martin retreated and interacted with his fellow band members instead of working the crowd and the performance was much stronger for it.

Then he ceded the stage to a confident and assured Mars and a crew of background dancers. There was good reason: “Uptown Funk” crackled with an energy unmatched by any of Coldplay’s material.

Beyonce took the field, surrounded by dancers with similar Afros to sing part of her new black power anthem, “Formation.” It was a gutsy move: Martin had said last week that he wouldn’t perform Coldplay’s collaboration with Queen Bey, “Hymn For the Weekend,” because it was too new. Instead, she breaks out a song released this weekend that many of the 100 million-plus watching on TV probably hadn’t heard. Because she can.

She worked it hard, and caught herself just in time after nearly slipping and falling on a dance move. With Mars and Martin, they segued into a mashup of “Uptown Funk” and “Formation.”


Martin then took to the piano for a tribute to past halftime shows, including snippets of U2’s “Beautiful Day” and Prince’s “Purple Rain,” as video clips aired of past performances (No Janet Jackson, though — the NFL would just as soon forget that one). Beyonce’s outfit itself may have been a tribute to Michael Jackson’s 1993 show, which brought Super Bowl halftimes into the modern age.

Nostalgia is fine, but in a 12-minute show, the tribute seemed a waste of the star power already arrayed on the stage. Martin, Mars and Beyonce finished strongly, however, singing a collaboration that ended with the audience holding placards that spelled out “Believe in Love.”

The soft drink company sponsoring the halftime show was a little heavy handed, trying to make a commercial with Janelle Monae seem like part of the show, and having extras hold up placards with their insignia on the field.

Before the game, Lady Gaga performed a classically lovely version of the national anthem, accompanied by a piano and looking sharp in a red pantsuit with matching eye shadow. Perhaps relieved with the pressure done, she vamped a little on “the brave” at the end, causing a flutter among betting houses that annually set odds on how long it would take to sing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

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